Budapest was among the first cities in Europe where 4G became available. Compared to other Western European cities fewer people have and use their smartphones, therefore, the congestion is lower on the 3G/4G network – which is accessible everywhere in the city – so the system is much faster compared to other cities. Free Wi-Fi spots are also available in cafés, restaurant, and public places, and a city-wide free Wi-Fi coverage is currently under development. Broadband coverage is accessible in every flat and has wide varieties of bandwidths from decent to superfast.
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Free Wi-Fi is available, and it has good coverage,, but you need to compromise on the speed. Almost all cafes, bars and restaurants have their own Wi-Fi for their guests in the Central areas. Most of them don’t even need a password and when they do, ask the waiter or look for a sign in the bar. The only issue, however,, however, is that only one channel is available for all the guests.
Public libraries, bigger shopping malls, public places, offices all have their own Wi-Fi networks, and they are usually free and offer better speed than cafés and bars.
There’s currently a city-wide free Wi-Fi network under development which will be accessible in hotspots around the city on the streets.
3G / 4G
Budapest was the second city in Europe where the 4G network was introduced. Overall the 3G / 4G coverage is 100% in the town and 3G is 97% across the whole country. You will never run out of signal, maybe only in thick woods. 3G is also available in the subways, you won’t lose signal.
The 3G / 4G speed is considered very fast as fewer people use or have their smartphones,, so the congestion is lower than that of any other Western significant cities.
You can buy 3G mobile broadband dongles from any telecom shops. Budapest offers 3 major mobile providers: T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Telenor. Some others also provide mobile packages, like UPC.
Broadband, cable and ADSL internet is available across the city almost anywhere. Usually, the lowest bandwidth is 100/50 MBps, and the highest is 1000/200 MBps, but you can get even higher than that. Cable is the most common and ADSL is available everywhere. Loyalty is not needed on a contract, but you can get a lower price if you sign up for 1 year. The major providers are UPC, Telekom (T-Mobile) and Digi but there are other smaller or local vendors as well. Before ordering your package, check the coverage and the cable penetration. You can get the most out from the cable net packs. Prices vary, usually,, a couple of thousand Forints per month and they set it up for you in 1-2 days.
Mobiles, services, and repairs
All popular mobile phones are available. Franchised Apple Stores are also accessible (most popular ones: iSTYLE, iCENTRE). Servicing your phone is easy, GSM and mobile shops are on every corner, check a local shopping mall to find a store. Apple products have their own service shops. Buying a phone might be more expensive than in other European countries and significantly higher than in Asia or in the US due to the highest VAT in the world. Repair costs, however,, however, are reasonable and considered more affordable by Western standards.
Tips on Wi-Fi, 3G / 4G, and broadband internet in Budapest
1. Almost all cafes and restaurants have their own Wi-Fi network, but most of them are protected by a password: ask the staff for the pass or look for a sign
2. The metro/subway / underground lines have 3G coverage
3. Intercity trains and some city-to-city coaches also offer 3G based Wi-Fi service which often free or password can be obtained from the staff, speed, however,, however, is very slow
4. Get a pre-paid / top-up mobile SIM card at any local mobile vendors so you can skip roaming prices! You can top-up the SIM cards at local groceries, non-stop shops, gas stations, tobacco shops, etc., or online
5. 3G / 4G data is surprisingly expensive compared to other prices in Hungary, always check your data consumption, so you don’t get an extra bill or run out of your limit
6. Hackers are very rare in the city but as always, if you can, avoid public free hotspots or cover your personal network with extra layers of security
7. It is polite to order a drink every 30 mins if you are browsing/working in a cafe
8. If your broadband provider is the UPC network, you can register for extra and free service on their site, where you can easily log on to other UPC users’ Wi-Fi and use their broadband for a slower but emergency connection for free
9. Digi has the lowest cost for broadband connection service, but they are not available everywhere
10. Repairing your gadgets is super cheap but not always quick, and service shops mostly won’t provide a substitute device while the repair takes place, so plan ahead